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The world's fastest ever (open top) roadster - 1200 bhp and 255 mph


March 12, 2012

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse will be limited to 233 mph

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse will be limited to 233 mph

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Whether you think the Bugatti Veyron is the pinnacle of sports car development or agree with Professor Gordon Murray that it's the "most pointless exercise on the planet", we all somehow seem drawn to the name and its continuing outrageous deeds. This week saw another milestone for the marque with the unveiling of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. It's the roadster version of the world's fastest car, which makes it the world's fastest roadster at 410 km/h (255 mph ), though in real life it will be limited to 375 km/h (233 mph).

One of the Grand Sport Vitesse's features is a new roof spoiler that significantly reduces wind noise and buffeting in the interior. There will also be a new windbreak that can be stored away in the luggage compartment when not in use. Used together, they allow "extremely relaxed, open-top driving even at speeds of around 200 km/h (124 mph)."

Let's quickly recount a bit of history to put it all in perspective.

The original Bugatti Veyron 16.4 entered series production in November 2005 after more than a year of PR build-up.

The engine was and remains, without question, an automotive engineering masterpiece.

The Bugatti engine has 16 cylinders, eight camshafts, four turbochargers and 64 valves. The cylinders are arranged in a W16 engine formation - the engine is essentially two four liter, narrow-angle V8s, displacing 7.9 liters in total and producing 987 horsepower in its original version.

Everything about the Veyron had to be extra strong to carry the immense loads, and you could spend hours studying the cleverness of each and every component, none moreso than the 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) system developed by Ricardo specifically for the Veyron.

The Veyron quickly proved to be the fastest production car in history, running an average 406 km/h (252.2 mph), it topped 400 km/h (248.5 mph) for the first time with a production car, and added a whopping 20 km/h (12.4 mph) to the record.

The previous record had been held by the Koenigsegg CCR which ran 387.87 km/h (241.01 mph) to take the record from the McLaren F1.

The McLaren F1 had run 391 km/h (243 mph) with a naturally-aspirated car in 1998 and held the record for seven years.

The Bugatti was also the most expensive series production car in the world, and even managed to become responsible for the world's most expensive speeding ticket.

A roadster version followed, dubbed the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, becoming the world's fastest open top car, being capable of traveling at 360 km/h (223.6 mph) with the roof off, and 407 km/h (253 mph) with it closed.

Then, in 2007, Shelby Super Cars (SSC) Ultimate Aero TT claimed the world record for a production car with an average 256.15 mph (412.2 km/h) over two runs. The 1183 bhp, twin-turbo V8 Ultimate Aero TT had become the world's fastest production car.

The new 1200 bhp Veyron 16.4 Super Sport responded to SSC to reclaim the record for Bugatti, pushing it to 431.072 km/h (267.86 mph). Adding nearly 20 km/h to a world speed record, after 120 years of human endeavor in the field - a gargantuan achievement.

Shelby Supercars and Koenigsegg are both planning attempts on this record in the near future with the Shelby Tuatara and Koenigsegg Agera r the respective contenders.

The car unveiled in Geneva this week was the roadster version of the Veyron Super Sport, named the Grand Sport Vitesse, and it runs the full 882 kW (1,200 hp) 7.9 liter W16 engine. The Grand Sport Vitesse produces 1,500 Nm of torque between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm - a once-in-a-lifetime experience available at whim.

The acceleration figures are awesome - 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.6 seconds and capable of a top speed of 410 km/h (255 mph), though unless you can convince Bugatti you're doing top speed runs on a closed circuit, it will remain electronically limited to 375 km/h (233 mph).

The motor is close to identical to the Super Sport engine, getting its extra 200 horsepower (compared to the original Veyron) by using four larger turbochargers and new intercoolers, though the gearing has been altered in the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

Perhaps the most enlightening aspect of the Grand Sport Vitesse unveiling was the degree of effort the factory is going to in order to create truly individual cars, plus the extraordinary price of such exclusivity.

One recent stand-out from Bugatti was the L'Or Blanc, which was created in cooperation with Berlin-based porcelain makers Königlichen Porzellan-Manufaktur. Bugatti is currently working on further unusual ways to individualize the Grand Sport.

Several different versions of the Vitesse were on display, each customized from the vast palette of colors, finishes and materials available.

Bugatti used the launch of the Vitesse to demonstrate a new trick - colored carbon fiber. By using colored carbon cloth instead of Henry Ford Black, the visible weave offers a semi-transparent gleam in a certain light. It looks great, and I am certain we'll see a lot more of this in the near future as designers everywhere realize the possibilities.

The first version of the Vitesse was painted in dark "Jet Grey." I will use the exact wording from the press release for the description: "Instead of two colors, this model uses an interaction between shiny areas (lids, roof and air scoop) and matte surfaces and elements (side parts, exterior mirrors and door handles). The radiator grill and wheel rims have been painted black."

"The orange underside of the rear wing matches the "Tangerine" coloring that Bugatti has used, for example, for the seats, the carpets, the underside of dashboard, the door edging, the contrasting stitching and the Vitesse labeling in the interior."

"All other surfaces, including the carbon parts, are black. In both cases, the aggressive, dynamic look of the vehicles fits in with the positioning of the new Grand Sport Vitesse."

Its price is EUR 1.75 million euros (approx US$2.31 million).

The second Grand Sport (not a Vitesse) on display at Geneva used the aforementioned carbon weave coloring technology to give all the carbon parts (lids, rear end, front spoiler and side skirting) a brown shimmer in an almost bronze shade depending on how the light falls.

Once more from the press blurb, "To create a contrast, the side parts on this Grand Sport, right up to the rear air intakes, are made from polished aluminum. The interior of the sports car, with "Gaucho" colored leather and coffee-colored stitching, complements the exterior."

It costs 1.79 million euros (US$2.36 million).

The second of the two Grand Sport Vitesse models that Bugatti is exhibiting at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show uses a blue version of the visible carbon fiber.

The press statement describes the car thus: "The upper area of the body is finished in 'Blue Carbon' while the roof area and air scoops are 'Lake Blue.'"

"The lower body panels (side skirting, front spoiler, radiator grill frame and rear apron with diffuser), the inner surfaces of the wheel rims and the underside of the automatically extending rear spoiler are in 'Light Blue Sport,' which has a hint of turquoise. The exterior colors are picked up again in the interior. "

"While the large surfaces feature dark blue tones, 'New Light Blue' is used for the contrasting stitching and the Vitesse labelling on the seats."

This Vitesse version costs 1.91 million euros (US$2.52 million).

One final point. The original Grand Sport will remain in the range.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

GREAT and WONDERFULL... stupidity Very intersting you mignt "fly" more than 400 kph on an open road !!! Gather the bank notes !


The most significant developments in a technology tend to occur when that technology is in the twilight of its career. These toys for the boys will soon be gathering dust in museums, monuments to a sector of industry incapable of reading the writing on the wall.

No doubt Jeremy Clarkson will be wetting his knickers at the prospect of driving one. Fortunately he will be one of a very small number of people who will have such an opportunity, though with today's traffic conditions, where they will find room to take "advantage," if it can be described thus, of the car's specification is another matter.

Mel Tisdale

"The previous record had been held by the Koennigsegg CCR which ran 387.87 km/h (241.01 mph) to take the record from the McLaren F1."

"The McLaren F1 had run 391 km/h (243 mph) with a naturally-aspirated car in 1998 and held the record for seven years."

Can someone explain how the Koenigsegn took the record by going slower?

Fact checking world prove the F1 ran 231mph and 240.1mph (rev limited and non rev limited) and the CCR ran a 241

Isaac Seidman



Guinness World Record officials recorded (all others records may or may not be true) 1993 - McLaren F1 - 231 mph (372 km/h) 3/31/98 - McLaren F1 - 240.1 mph (386.4 km/h) 2/28/05 - Koenigsegg CCR - 241 mph (388 km/h) 4/19/05 - Bugatti Veyron - 253.81 mph (408.47 km/h) 10/9/07 - SSC Ultimate Aero TT - 256.18 mph (412.28 km/h) 6/26/10 - Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport - 267.857 mph (431.074 km/h)

Matt Fletcher

Fastest PRODUCTION Roadster.

Dr.Bonner Denton ran his front-wheel-drive 1959 Berkeley roadster at 311mph at Bonneville this past season.

There is also an open-top Triumph roadster running over 300mph at Bonneville,as well.

They go well over 250mph everytime they go out.

Those "Bugattis" may never see 200mph.

They are VWs- They are the antithesis of Ettore Bugatti's design philosophies.

He considered himself an artist as well as an engineer and and his art was VERY egalitarian.

He would never have approved of the extravagant wastefulness and complexity of the cars that now bare his name.

Look him and read about him and his work.

He once turned down a King as a customer because he said the man had no table manners.

Current Bugatti is all about the money.

$120,000 transmission? &25,000 for tires every 3,000 miles? $95,000 for rims&tires every 10,000 miles?

More money than brains, for sure.


Hmm Bugatty?

If they were so smart, how come they are not making an inline 2 seater, holds ONE big shopping trolley full of groceries, that gets 300Km to the liter at 100Kmh.....

And weighs under 80Kg.....

Mr Stiffy

Mr Stiffy back with the scooter pushing. Veyrons are not made for fuel efficient trips to the supermarket in pleasant weather. They are made to be status symbols. Like multi-million dollar trophies to excess wealth. "Oh, so you have a Ferrari? One of those cheap toys? My Veyron proves I'm better than you because it is more expensive and goes faster. You can imagine how big a man I must be." That's what a Veyron is and anyone able to afford one has someone else take their scooter down to the supermarket to buy their groceries for them.


@Griffin - The first two vehicles you listed were not PRODUCED at specifications that allow the times and speeds attained at bonneville today.


what purpose does it serve? where the bloody hell can you drive a car at 253 friccking miles an hour? I drove my URQ at 130 on I5 between Seattle and Portland and in hindsight it was a BAD idea, err act, this is useless, much like the technology being pumped into new cars, hey Mr Stiffy, nice to see you here, no we are not dating URQ 196 aka Bill

Bill Bennett

@Scion - I think these ARE absolutely beautiful pieces of workmanship... fantastic cars... brilliant experience...

Would I like one? - yes.

Would I like to have some open road and twisty mountain roads where there are NO police and no speed limits - to take it out for a damned good thrashing - over say ummm several months? - yes.

Would I like to have a bottomless bank account to finance such a venture? - yes.

Where would I find the most valuable and meaningful use of my time? Out riding my bicycle with my family and friends, and doing things together as a community - like going to the markets....

What I said was that a mega-faster gas guzzling car while remarkable - is not a huge advance by and of it's self. Making cars that are brilliantly efficient and very cost effective are.

So you can deride me all you want with the super market trolly comments - as far as I am concerned these cars while they are brilliant, they are fiancial black holes... and I have far more meaningful things to aim for, that have far more productive outcomes.

The Bugatti:

$120,000 transmission?

&25,000 for tires every 3,000 miles?

$95,000 for rims&tires every 10,000 miles?

Massive fuel consumption, insurance etc...

S@#t - the purchase price and running costs over 5 years would bicycles for 50,000 kids who don't have dads or moms.

Ummmm there are heaps of people all around that world that are missing legs due to land mines - this car would pay for about half a million plastic legs.

The investment into renewable energy and unpolluting the oceans and land - well this car and it's running costs could seed enormous amounts of projects and outcomes.

So while this car is an incredible vehicle - it's really such a piss poor investment - when there are so many other things available that have so many much more rewarding outcomes - for so many other people, and much of the life on this planet as we know it.

Mr Stiffy

I like engineering for engineering's sake.

Since it is not my money that will produce or buy it and I'm of the opinion that other people's money is ...well theirs to do what they like with it, I say good for them and their employees and all their suppliers employees.

I'm glad we live in a world where people can still do somewhat silly things with their own capital.

We each have our own philanthropic ideas and I could name a few more ways they could've spent the money but that is an exercise in futility. The money isn't mine.

No matter who you are and how you spend what's yours, someone will think they have a better way.

I thought all Bugatti's cars were in the I can't afford it column, even 60 years ago? I didn't know they ever made a "people's" car?

I was wondering if we had turned a corner in mathematics where the slower car was faster!!? Thanks for the update Isaac.

Dr. Veritas
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